Writers are often asked what makes their material fit for the stage rather than, for example, the screen. ‘Honest Lies’ is the answer to that question. It is entertainment at the highest grade; a play that when it isn’t making you laugh is making you think. This is deceptive writing at its best. Keeping you on your toes and surprising you around every corner.
We meet Sam (Alexander Jeremy) and Claire (Hayley Osborne) in their home and are quickly brought into the middle of a domestic dispute. Sam is a failed actor who owns grand ideas about what theatre should be and Claire is a more successful actress who doesn’t hold the same amount of respect for the medium as her boyfriend. We listen to them bicker and are delighted to watch Sam’s tactics at getting his girlfriend to listen to his points, whether it’s berating her literally or through a hilariously odd tactic of throwing gummy bears at her. But this set up is soon dismantled and the audience are taken on a ride that although they weren’t expecting are thrilled to go on.
Nothing prepared me for how impressed I would be with Alexander Jeremy whose performance was near perfect. His comic timing is impeccable, his commanding voice demands your attention and he owns a depth that is almost never seen on stage. He has that rare quality of visceral rawness whilst being so human you are always empathising with him. If you only go to see this show for one reason, go to see Jeremy before he becomes the next Bafta rising star award winner.
Hayley Osborne delivered a speech on the breadth of modern female roles that deserved a standing ovation and brought to the character of Claire what was needed; some female balls. She had great colour to her performance proving that what she was lacking in options as a female performer was unfair as she was more than able to deliver what was needed of them.
What the company do with the set is brilliant. To say much more would be spoiling the fun so I shall put it this way; one of the reasons this play succeeds so greatly is because of how aware it is of what it is, where it is, in what climate it exists in and what role its audience plays. It makes you think by making you laugh first. Why are you laughing is the question it asks you and your answer belongs to you alone.
Christopher Walthorne has given us a very well written play. We are informed that certain scenes and dialogue have been reshaped by the actors and I would argue this only enhanced it. No line was out of place and nothing was said that didn’t need to be. This is a show that is so acutely aware of the role of the audience that you feel lucky you got a ticket to see it. And considering this is the first thing Putnockee Players has done, I for one can’t wait to see what’s next.